Boston High School: Clay Horne

LA's senior class comes full circle

February, 4, 2011
BOSTON -- Two weeks ago, Mike Orloff's phone went off during class, as sometimes happens these days. And when he looked down at the missed call, he was startled to see a Los Angeles area code number.

"I couldn’t for the life of me guess who it was going to be," the Lawrence Academy senior laughed as he recalled the story of how he ended up just minutes earlier this Thursday evening, from the 37th floor of the 40-story 28 State Street skyscraper in Government Center, signing a National Letter of Intent to play football at UCLA next fall.

Turns out the mystery call was a voicemail from Rick Neuheisel, head coach of the Bruins, and he had just finished watching his film 10 seconds ago. Not only did he love the linebacker's physical, downhill style of play, and natural nose for the ball, he wanted him to call back immediately and come down to Westwood for an official visit.

Mike Orloff
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comSenior linebacker Mike Orloff switched his commitment Monday from Iowa to UCLA and signed his letter of intent Thursday night in Boston.
Orloff had verbally committed to Iowa last summer, but couldn't resist. He flew down for an official visit last Friday, and by Monday he had made up his mind to switch his commitment.

On Thursday night, high above the downtown Boston skyline, he and six of his Spartan teammates signed National Letters of Intent to play Division 1 football at the FBS or FCS level, bringing the Spartans' amazing run these last two seasons -- 17-1, with two ISL championships and a NEPSAC Bowl victory -- full circle.

Wednesday's National Letter of Intent signing day for football prospects was one that lacked drama, with all of the top in-state prospects already committed. But it was quite an anomaly, with 13 players signing NLI's to Division 1 FBS schools from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Conference-USA, Pac-10, Mountain West and MAC, most significantly Brockton's Albert Louis-Jean (Boston College), Rivers' Taariq Allen (Nebraska) and St. John's of Shrewsbury's Richard Rodgers (Cal). One of Orloff's teammates, three-star wideout Marcus Grant, signed with Iowa; they were joined by running back Anthony Knight (Nevada), tight end Clay Horne (Villanova), linebacker Dan Giovacchini (Brown) and linemen Max Ricci (BC) and Ryan Welch (UNH).

It's a level of depth not seen year to year in this state. Allen, for instance, will be the Huskers' first scholarship player from Massachusetts since Peabody's Grant Miller in 2002; before that, you have to go back to Lincoln-Sudbury's duo of Mike Croel and Joe Sims in the 1980's. Louis-Jean, meanwhile, is the No. 9 overall cornerback in the nation by ESPNU's rankings, and committed to Miami last March before dropping the Hurricanes following Randy Shannon's firing as head coach.

"Being from Mass, and seeing other kids from Mass going on to big places, Taariq going to Nebraska and Albert going to BC, and all of us in this room, it’s been incredible," said Grant, a Carver native, moments after putting the ink on his paperwork. "To see people you’ve known for so long, going on to play big time football, it’s been a pretty amazing experience for me."


Grant was in Iowa City this past January 21, a Friday, the day after a number of players performed an intense squat workout that has since come under scrutiny from the national media. Grant said he saw "players limping, looking like they couldn't move, couldn't even go out at night to hang out."

He didn't put too much weight into the scene until Monday rolled around and reports surfaced that 13 players were hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis, a stress-induced syndrome that can cause kidney problems and damage cells. The news has resonated back in the Boston area, as Duxbury native and linebacker Shane DiBona was among the 13 hospitalized, while strength coach Chris Doyle hails from Quincy.

Earlier today, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics spokesman Tom Moore told the Associated Press that three employees were in the process of being terminated over a breach of players' medical records, while two more were handed five-day unpaid suspensions.

Grant says he sticks by the Hawkeyes, and that the news has not had an affect on his commitment.

"It was crazy," Grant said. "First thing I did was talk to my recruiting coordinator, Ken O’Keefe, and he actually had no idea at the time because he was out on the road. It was crazy, but then again they said it wasn’t anything to do with people on the team doing something illegal or anything. It wasn’t too concerning, you’ve just got to take care of your body when you do a gruesome workout like that."

When asked how much of an affect the highly-publicized incident had on him switching his commitment from the Hawkeyes, Orloff swiftly responded, "Absolutely not, absolutely not. I mean, coach Doyle is one of the most respected people in that business. As far as I know, he’s one of the best, so that has nothing to do with it."

Football Signing Day is here

February, 2, 2011
The first day of the football National Letter of Intent signing period has arrived, and we've got you covered all day (though we'll probably be buried under snow ourselves). Here is a list of Massachusetts athletes committed to Division 1 programs headed into today's big day.

Any commitments can be sent to Scott Barboza at or Brendan Hall at

(NOTE: The Ivy League does not recognize National Letters of Intent)

Taariq Allen, Rivers – Nebraska
Manny Asprilla, Everett – Boston College
Dalton Gifford, Bridgton Academy (Maine)/Barnstable – UConn
Marcus Grant, Lawrence Academy – Iowa
Harry Keselman, Oliver Ames - Temple
Anthony Knight, Lawrence Academy – Nevada
Albert Louis-Jean, Brockton – Boston College (enrolled in January)
Brian Miller, Andover – Boston College
Paul Nwokeji, Thayer Academy – UConn
Rodman Noel, Milford Academy (N.Y.)/Everett – NC State
Mike Orloff, Lawrence Academy – UCLA
Liam Porter, Natick – Boston College
Max Ricci, Lawrence Academy – Boston College
Richard Rodgers, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Cal
Andrew Siden, Natick – Tulane

Jeff Anderson, Longmeadow - Brown
Ryan Barrett, Holliston – Bryant
Connor Candito, Bridgton Academy (Maine)/St. John's (Shrewsbury) - Sacred Heart
Jamie Casselbury, Philips Andover - UMass
Connor Caveney, Cushing Academy - Sacred Heart
Matt Costello, Everett – Princeton
Jeff Covitz, Reading - Bryant
Ryan Delisle, St. John’s Prep – Harvard
Anthony Fabiano, Wakefield – Harvard
Ryan Flannery, North Attleborough - Columbia
Justin Flores, Tilton School/Woburn - Maine
Dan Giovacchini, Lawrence Academy – Brown
Will Guinee, Malden Catholic - Dartmouth
Greg Hilliard, Suffield Academy (Conn.)/Brockton – UMass
Clay Horne, Lawrence Academy – Villanova
Brandon Howard, Worcester Academy/King Philip - UMass
Randall Jette, Martha’s Vineyard – UMass
Isaiah Jones, Mahar - Maine
Andrew Kestenbaum, Dartmouth – Rhode Island
Ben Koopman, Marblehead – Holy Cross
John Lavin, Falmouth – Bryant
Dan Light, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Fordham
Harrison Lyons, Avon Old Farms (Conn.)/Norwell - Bryant
Alec May, King Philip - Georgetown
Brian McDonald, Hebron Academy (Maine)/Westwood - Sacred Heart
Andrew Mizzoni, Gloucester – Holy Cross
Obum Obukwelu, BC High – Harvard
Ben Patrick, Rivers – UMass (preferred walk-on)
Jason Richard, Milford Academy (N.Y.)/Weston - Sacred Heart
Peter Savarese, BB&N - Dartmouth
Zach Smerlas, Lincoln-Sudbury – Brown
Keshaudas Spence, Taft (Conn.)/Catholic Memorial - Sacred Heart
Charlie Storey, Milton Academy - Dartmouth
Brian Strachan, St. Sebastian’s – Brown
Cam Sullivan, Westfield - Bryant
Jeff Synan, Plymouth North - Bryant
Ben Ticknor, Milton Academy - Dartmouth
John Wallace, Somerville – UMass
Ryan Welch, Lawrence Academy – UNH
Conor Wyand, Nashoba - Brown

Nick Broughton, Marblehead - Merrimack
Matt Delaney, Barnstable - Assumption
Chris Mooney, Stoneham - Assumption
Mike Muir, Xaverian - Bentley
Bobby Richman, North Attleborough - Bentley
Chris Unis, Gloucester - Merrimack

Eric Bertino, BB&N - Middlebury
Ned Deane, Andover - Amherst
Mike Devin, Bridgewater-Raynham, Bowdoin
James DiBlaisi, BB&N - Trinity
Josh Friedland, Marblehead - Bates
Jake Giovanucci, Dexter - Bowdoin
Mike Gustafson, Belmont Hill - Washington & Lee
Brett Harasimowicz, Duxbury - Middlebury
Mike Hogan, St. John's (Shrewsbury) - Wesleyan
Matt Perlow, Marblehead - Bowdoin
Mike Tomaino, Gloucester - Bates

Mauro catapults comeback for Salisbury

November, 20, 2010
EASTHAMPTON, Mass. -- The Salisbury School trailed Lawrence Academy 14-0 at halftime, and anyone watching the game at Sawyer Field in Easthampton can tell you things did not look good for the Knights. However, during the intermission Salisbury head coach Chris Phelps preached his faith in the Knights, and the team took hold of the pep talk.

“The halftime speech was just something we talk about all the time,” Phelps said after the game. “It was ‘With belief and hard work, anything can happen’.”

“Basically coach just said, ‘do what we’ve done all season…believe in each other and know that we can win’.” Salisbury quarterback Bobby Wood said.

In the second half, Salisbury rallied together -- starting with a 100-yard blocked field goal return by Marc Mauro early in the third quarter -- and mounted a captivating 24-21 comeback over Lawrence Academy to win the 2010 Tom Flaherty Bowl.

The Knights struggled mightily on offense in the first half but used their success on special teams and defense to spur the group to victory.

“I think they take it personal if they aren’t playing up to their potential,” Phelps said of the team’s motivation. “It was kind of one of those inner strength-type things. The guys didn’t want to let their brothers down and they came out here and worked hard.”

Even though the Salisbury offense gave the ball away on a fumble on its first possession of the third quarter, the defensive unit provided the team with a spark. On the next drive the team’s defense forced Lawrence to attempt a 45-yard field goal, which was consequently partially-blocked and then returned 100-yards by Mauro to put Salisbury on the scoreboard for the first time all game.

“I said you know what, ‘maybe a block, we’re down, what the hell? Something could happen,” Mauro candidly said after the win. “I stepped back there, it got blocked, and I took advantage of the opportunity.”

“That set us off right there. That ignited us,” said Wood about the return.

The touchdown gave Salisbury new life in the game. Following the score, the defensive unit came out and forced Lawrence to go three and out but also delivered a huge blow to the Spartans core.

Quarterback Mike Orloff finally succumb to physical injury on a 5-yard run in the third, after playing over a quarter of the game with a bad knee. In the first quarter, Orloff ran a keeper 41 yards down the right sideline, but was leveled on the end of the play by Mauro.

Orloff landed awkwardly then, and was examined by Lawrence trainers for a few minutes after but eventually returned to the action -- hobbling on one leg after every play. However, in the third quarter he ran up the middle and after he fell to the ground, it was evident that he would be unable to return.

“They all battled,” Lawrence coach Mike Taylor said about his team’s injuries. “We lost Orloff, we lost Dan Giovacchini in the first half, so it was a struggle -- it’s an uphill battle especially against a good team like [Salisbury].”

Giovacchini, the ISL player of the year and a presence at middle linebacker for the Spartans, went down in the first half after carrying the ball four times for 22 yards. In the first half, Orloff totaled 66 yards rushing on six carries, and was 6 of 10 passing with 135 yards and one touchdown and one interception. Wide receiver and fellow co-captain Marcus Grant filled in for Orloff at quarterback.

But, after Orloff left the game for good, the Crimson Knights struck with a 97-yard touchdown pass from Wood to wide receiver Michael White and tied the game at 14 points.

“It was one of those things that when I called it I thought ‘this could go completely the opposite way’. “ Phelps admitted about the call. “We maxed up the protection and protected our backside and took a shot at it.”

Salisbury went up by three points on a 22-yard field goal by Patrick Mazeika with 7 minutes, 19 seconds left in the fourth, and then later stopped Lawrence on a fourth down pass in Salisbury territory. The Knights put an exclamation on the comeback when they went up by 10 after a 62-yard Mauro touchdown late in the fourth.

LAW 7 7 0 7 --- 21
SAL 0 0 14 10 --- 24

First Quarter
LA - Grant 4 pass from Orloff (Dominik Kozlowski kick)

Second Quarter
LA - Tony Knight 14 pass from Orloff (Peter Taylor kick)

Third Quarter
SS - Mauro 100 blocked field goal-return touchdown (Jerry Silvery kick)
SS - White 97 pass from Wood (Silvey kick)

Fourth Quarter
SS - Mazeika 22 field goal
SS - Mauro 62 run (Mazeika kick)
LA - Clay Horne 33 pass from Grant (Kozlowski kick)

LA caps perfect ISL season in style

November, 13, 2010
AYER, Mass. –- This was the game both Buckingham, Browne, & Nichols and Lawrence Academy had been anticipating all year. And after a season’s worth of thought and preparation, Spartans coach Mike Taylor broke out the game plan he had set aside for Friday’s occasion.

“Everyone thinks we’re a running team,” he said. “Tonight we aired it out. We’ve been saving that all season for this special event.”

Lawrence Academy rode an impressive passing attack to a 36-7 drubbing of BB&N, to win the Independent School League championship and finish the season at a perfect 8-0, for the second consecutive season.

Quarterback Mike Orloff completed 13 of 20 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, and he made it look routine.

By the end of the first quarter he had completed all five of his passes and led the Spartans to a 13-0 lead. He hit Clay Horne (three catches, 45 yards) with his first two throws, which set up an Anthony Knight 23-yard touchdown run.

On LA’s next possession, Orloff hit his future University of Iowa teammate Marcus Grant (seven catches, 153 yards) three times. On the third strike, Grant got behind everyone in the Knights' secondary and reeled in a 56-yard bomb to put the Spartans up two scores.

“Linebacker right? [Orloff’s] supposed to be a linebacker in college,” Grant said. “But he was chucking the rock around. He did a great job. I had confidence in him all year that he could do that and tonight happened to be the night that he showed that.”

Just before the end of the first half, LA continued its aerial onslaught. On fourth and 17 from the 21 yard line of BB&N (7-1), the Spartans drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone. They capitalized on the opportunity when Orloff rolled to his right and found Grant dragging his feet for the touchdown as he dove out of bounds. The score made it 23-0 going into the half.

And while the Lawrence crowd ogled the air show, the Spartans were similarly efficient on the ground. Knight (11 caries, 81 yards), a bruising running back headed to North Carolina State, finished the game with 124 yards from scrimmage and added a second touchdown late in the third quarter to make the score 36-0.

“You just saw one of the best performances any high school team can put on,” said BB&N coach John Papas. “They have weapons everywhere and when they play well as they did tonight, they’re relatively flawless. I don’t know who can beat them. Our kids’ effort was phenomenal. We played our tail off. But that football team — it was like a track meet.”

Defensively, Lawrence Academy didn’t allow a completed pass until the third quarter They forced two turnovers on downs, a fumble and two interceptions. Matthew Harnum’s pick set up Knight’s second touchdown scamper.

BB&N running back Chris Coady ran for 81 yards on 21 carries, scoring on a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to spoil LA’s shutout.

“The defense has been the strength of our team,” said Orloff, who also plays safety. “We’ve got all those weapons on offense but out defense has really been our strength. We got a ton of turnovers, giving us good field possession. That’s what makes it easy for our offense.”

When the final seconds ran off the clock in the fourth quarter, Taylor was doused with Gatorade and Spartans supporters flooded the field. After a year of waiting, Lawrence Academy had won its second-straight ISL title.

“It’s absolutely awesome,” said Orloff, as players and fans lingered well after the lights went out. “Just trying to savor the moment.”


BBN – 0 0 0 7 - 7
LA – 13 10 13 0 - 36

First quarter
LA – Knight 23 run (Dominik Kozlowski kick)
LA – Orloff 56 pass to Grant (kick failed)

Second Quarter
LA – Kozlowski 27 kick
LA – Orloff 11 pass to Grant (Kozlowski kick)

Third Quarter
LA – Owen Moore 4 run (Kozlowski kick)
LA – Knight 16 run (kick failed)

Fourth Quarter
BBN – Coady 4 run (Ralph Malin kick)

Lawrence Academy not short on talent

September, 22, 2010
Lawrence Academy coach Michael Taylor was asked what he considered the weakness of his defending Independent School League and New England Prep School Athletic Council Samson/Lorden Bowl champion.

“Hmmmm,” Taylor said, clearly stumped by the inquiry.

Long pause.

“I’d say, with any ISL school, depth,” Taylor said. “If we had to play the schedule like Brockton and Xaverian and Everett, we don’t have the depth on the roster. We don’t have the long numbers because of student population. There’s somewhere around 160 boys in the school. It would be tough to compete on a longer schedule like the public schools do because we don’t have the student population.”

Taylor said about 60 players play from the freshman level up, but only 20-to-25 get significant varsity reps from offense to defense to special teams.

“In that regard, we’re a tiny team,” Taylor said.

Well, that’s the only regard in which this team can be described as “tiny.” In everything else – from pure physical size, speed, talent, you name it – the Spartans are the exact opposite. This team is huge. A colossal. There isn’t a “look test” that this team doesn’t pass.

The most obvious example is the offensive line. From tackle to tackle, the heights and weights of the Spartans are as follows: 6-feet, 5-inches, 360 pounds; 6-1, 300; 6-6, 235; 6-5, 278; and 6-5, 340. And it’s a group that has an athleticism that belies its bulk.

Tyler Cardoze (the 6-5, 340-pounder from Queens, NY) has the best feet out of all of them. A young senior who just turned 17 on Aug. 10, Cardoze holds an offer from Bryant but might have the most upside of any player on a team that already has four BCS verbally committed athletes.

“He’s our best offensive lineman,” Taylor said, “which is saying a lot.”

Max Ricci, a 6-5, 360-pound verbal commit to Boston College and native of Jamaica Plain, also has seemingly limitless potential. According to Taylor, Ricci first played organized football just two years ago.

“When it’s really driving rain and windy, we’re an opponent’s worst nightmare,” he added. “With our line, we’re not just a finesse offense. We are a fundamental group. We’re going to line up and we’re going to come right at you. We have both options available. That’s one of the benefits of having a good, athletic line like that.”

It doesn’t hurt to have a 6-3, 220-pound running back in Anthony Knight who clocked a 4.55 forty-yard dash at NC State’s camp and committed to the Wolfpack shortly thereafter. Not surprisingly, Knight averaged over 14 yards per carry last year.

The Spartans’ most explosive skill player is Marcus Grant, a speedy wideout who burns defenses both on sweeps on handoffs from Michael Orloff or catching passes from the senior Danvers native. Both players are verbally committed to Iowa.

Defensively, Orloff is a hard-hitting safety and middle linebacker Dan Giovacchini of Acton returned six interceptions for touchdowns last year.

“He’s somebody that flies under the radar a little bit,” Taylor said of Giovacchini, who is receiving heavy interest from the Ivy League and Boston College.

Senior guard and nose guard Ryan Welch (6-1, 300) suffered a hamstring injury over the summer but still owns a New Hampshire offer already and is one of the most physical linemen in New England.

This is a Lawrence team that can play with anyone on any given day and will be a huge favorite against everyone on its schedule, including BB&N — the only team to beat the Spartans in the last two years. But Taylor does his best to keep what happens on the field in perspective.

“Winning is nice. It is,” Taylor said. “But I’ll tell you what. If we lost all of our games but were able to get every senior free education by playing football, I’d sacrifice it in a second, because that education is going to last them a lifetime.”

2009 record: 9-0, won ISL title and beat Kimball Union in Samson/Lorden Bowl
Coach: Michael Taylor (3rd year, 16-1)
Players to watch: Michael Orloff, Sr., QB/S, 6-3, 220 (verbal commit to Iowa); Anthony Knight, Sr., RB/CB, 6-3, 220 (verbal commit to NC State); Marcus Grant, Sr., WR/CB, 6-3, 190 (verbal commit to Iowa); Max Ricci, Sr., OT/DT, 6-5, 360 (verbal commit to Boston College); Dan Giovacchini, Sr., MLB, 6-5, 225; Tyler Cardoze, Sr., OT/DT, 6-5, 340; Ryan Welch, Sr., G/NG, 6-1, 300; Clay Horne, Sr., WR/TE, 6-7, 220; Nevin Cyr, Jr., WR/TE/OLB, 6-6, 230; Tyler Beauschesne, Jr., G/DL, 6-5, 278; Matt Boone, Sr., C, 6-6, 235; Jack Michaels, So., DL, 6-1, 260; Dominik Kozlowski, Jr., CB/WR/K, 6-1, 190; Owen Moore, Jr., FB, 6-0, 230; Peter Taylor, Sr., FB/DE, 6-1, 200.
Strengths: Line play, skill positions, speed, physicality, overall talent level, experience.
Weaknesses: Depth.
Outlook: It is by no means hyperbolic to suggest that this year’s version of the Spartans is the most talented in ISL history, as four seniors are already committed to BCS-level schools and the likelihood of more to come. Offensively, Lawrence is versatile and explosive. The Spartans can stretch the field vertically and horizontally or pound the ball between the tackles with Knight behind an overpowering and college-sized offensive line. On defense, Lawrence runs a 50 front that is strong up the middle with Welch over center, Giovacchini (6 INTs returned for TDs last season) at middle linebacker and Orloff at safety. With BB&N looking at a relative rebuilding year, the question isn’t whether or not anyone on Lawrence’s schedule can beat the Spartans, it’s whether or not anyone on its schedule can stay within four touchdowns of them, as the Knights were the only team to do so last year.